After nearly six years, Bill McMahon will no longer be the executive director for Local First Springfield, as of June 15. Board president Val Yazell said, “Bill has taken us from a grassroots organization; he served as a great face and voice for Local First for many years. We’ve just grown so much in the last six months, with more than 60 new members, we are recognizing that we need someone who can manage the organization for us.”
Yazell said the group is still deciding what the role will entail going forward. “Our needs have changed a bit throughout the years, so we’ll be looking at what our needs are and what specific skills we need.”
For his part, McMahon says he hopes to find a new job where he can utilize his experience in workforce and economic development. Prior to coming to Springfield, he spent nearly 10 years as an assistant commissioner for workforce development for the City of Chicago and also co-founded the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council.
“I helped create the basic policy book for the Obama-era manufacturing outreach, back when he was a senator,” said McMahon. “We used community colleges to do workforce training, reached out to targeted sectors and tried to build public/private partnerships. It’s all about getting unions and government and education and labor all on the same page.”
During his time in Springfield, McMahon said he’s participated in many meetings, forums and groups that focus on economic development but feels there could be more coordination at the local level. “It’s not like we don’t have the tools to do it, but it’s a sort of scattered approach,” he said. “We don’t coordinate with everyone else, and no one is taking charge.”
Given his prior experience in Chicago, he would also like to see more focus on job creation in Springfield. “I’ve noticed a pronounced emphasis on real estate development, empty buildings, redevelopment agreements, zoning – all of which are very important. But I have yet to be at any of these meetings where people talk about jobs, especially as a targeted goal or outcome.”
In the meantime, McMahon says, “I plan to enjoy my summer in beautiful Springfield. My friendships and network are intact, so you’ll still be seeing me around town.”